Support during COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Here you will find updates and information on general qualifications for international schools.

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Our priority, as with any exam series, is to make sure that every student receives a grade or award that reflects their knowledge and understanding of the subject they have studied. This year is no different; ensuring that students receive a grade or award that is accurate and fair so that they can make progress.

For the latest update on summer (May/June) 2022 support for UK and International general qualifications please visit our summer 2022 support page. 

Visit our summer 2022 support page

As you will know from previous communications, we are running an October/November 2021 series for International GCSE and International AS/A level (see series and subject detail below).  

Exams and standardised assessments continue to be the fairest way of determining what a student knows and can do, so we appreciate how important this series is to you and your students. Therefore, we wanted to reassure you that exams will take place - you can find the latest, timelines, guidance on running exams safely, support for students, and special considerations on this page. 


Before the decision was taken to cancel the May/June 2021 summer exams, there had been a plan to make adjustments to assessments in order to ensure candidates were not disadvantaged. This included removing some components and adjusting the requirement for others. These adjustments will be applied in the October/November 2021 series. Please visit your individual subject page for more information.   Please visit your individual subject page for more information. 

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We're offering an additional International GCSE series in November 2021. This is an additional arrangement for 2021 only. We’ll be running a focused January 2022 series. 

We offer an October series for International AS/A level (IAL), and this will go ahead as planned in October 2021. In addition, and as shared previously, selected units will be made available to provide an opportunity for students to achieve what they need for progression. We also offer a January series and this will also go ahead as planned in January 2022. 

Across these two series, at least one exam opportunity for each modular IAL unit will be available before the May/June 2022 series. 

We currently offer an October Series for iPrimary and iLowerSecondary and this will go ahead as planned in October 2021. 

Please look at the subject availability for International Qualifications.

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Our international qualifications are taken by schools in more than 80 countries and we understand that in exceptional circumstances a small minority of countries might not be able to run exams due to Covid related imposed restrictions from local or national authorities. In these cases, we will revert to the robust teacher assessed grades approach that we used for the summer 2021 series, using similar processes and systems. We will not be offering unseen materials or a marking service to support the determination of students’ grades in the October/November 2021 series. 

Where there have not been restrictions put in place from a local or national authority, exams will be the only pathway for students to obtain a grade in the October/November 2021 series.  

Please note that – as for any exam series - the exam papers for the October/November 2021 series are secure materials and these cannot be used before the exam day to determine a teacher assessed grade (TAG).    

If your centre is in an area where you will not be permitted by local or national agencies to conduct exams, please complete this application for exceptional arrangements.   

Generating evidence  

The approach to teacher assessed grades in October/November 2021 will be to align with the process and guidance put in place for summer 2021. 

However, unlike in summer 2021, Pearson will not be offering unseen materials to be used as part of the generation of evidence. This is to ensure the integrity of the October/November 2021 series and security of assessments. Similarly, we will not be offering a marking service or an advocate service. 

Please note that candidates who received a TAG in summer 2021 and who were intending to resit in October/November will not be eligible for a TAG on this occasion.  Candidates who received a teacher assessed grade in the summer but are unable to sit examinations in the October/November series should enter at the next available opportunity. 

At least three pieces of evidence must be used to form the evidence to derive a grade: 

  • use of past papers
  • in class tests
  • homework, and, where relevant
  • non-examined assessment. 

Please ensure that you refer to the full guidance document (releasing week commencing 27 September). 

Quality Assurance process 

As in the summer 2021 series, centres will be required to submit a centre policy to Pearson in advance of submitting grades. Centres who submitted a policy in summer 2021 may use this as the basis for Autumn 2021. Centres will need to review the guidance for Autumn against their policy for the summer to ensure it is still compliant. As we are not offering unseen materials or a marking service the section ‘Use of appropriate evidence’ will need to be reviewed by schools against the evidence requirements for Autumn 2021. Centres will be asked to review the guidance for Autumn 2021 and amend their policy as necessary. 

Please ensure that you refer to the full guidance document (releasing week commencing 27 September). 

Key dates for the 2021 October/November series 

Week commencing 27 September 2021 Updated grading guidance published for International TAGs (including changes to use of evidence and centre policy).  Revised Centre policy 
7 October Centre policy submission window opens 
21 October Centre policy submission window closes
14 - 28 October Review of centre policies by Pearson – including virtual visits if required 
28 October Teacher Assessed Grade (TAGs) Grading submission window opens 
11 November Teacher Assessed Grade (TAGs) submission deadline
12 November Centres informed of evidence submission required – including which subjects and which students
16 November Deadline for submitting evidence 
18 November - 1 December Stage 3 Review of evidence window
17 November - 6 December Stage 3 virtual visits where required
13 January 2022 Publication of results – International A Levels  
24 February Publication of results – International GCSEs

As many centres around the world prepare to deliver exams in the coming months, we would like to support your efforts to ensure that students and staff are kept safe during this period.

Centres must always follow the regulations and guidelines issued by their local government to keep candidates safe before, during and after sitting examinations. To assist you, here are some examples of how organisations are preparing for the return of students to schools and administering exams. You may find these a useful reference to adapt to your local situation and conditions.

Please read our full guidance on running exams safely here

Special consideration is a post examination mark adjustment processed when students are disadvantaged during their exams.

If a student can only sit some of their scheduled exams or have banked IAS/IAL units from previous series, it may be possible to award a qualification grade based on these results. To request this, the exam centre should apply for Special Consideration according to the processes outlined on our special requirements page.

The criteria for this award in the October/November 2021 or January 2022 series are:

  • Students are eligible for this type of special consideration if they have completed 25% of the total assessment (in the current or previous series) for the subject award.
  • If an IAL candidate has only AS unit(s) banked and is missing all A2 units, – the banked AS score(s) can be used to calculate the award. However, if the candidate has a banked score for another A2 unit, this will be used to determine the aegrotat for an A2 unit that has been missed.
  • Students must have unit entries in the current series for all remaining units of the specification (IAS/IAL only)
  • Students must have made a cash-in entry for the qualification to be awarded (IAS/IAL only).

The outcome of all special consideration requests is dependent on the different circumstances of each candidate and each case is considered on its own merits. All special consideration requests must be received within 7 days of the last examination of the series.

If students are unable to take any exams in the current series (and, for IAL students only, do not have any unit results banked from a previous series), centres will be able to enter students for a future series.

If students cannot attend exams due to medical-related reasons and special consideration (as described above) is not an option, exam centres can request that the corresponding entry fee be credited to the centre to be applied against future entries.

NOTE: Special considerations will not be applied in relation to lost teaching time during the school year.

October 2021 Series

An October series will be available, as already planned, for all subjects in iPrimary and iLowerSecondary.

We recognise that students around the world are facing different circumstances.

Our priority is to ensure your safety and well-being, and that you fairly receive a grade that reflects your knowledge and understanding.

We understand that it might not be possible to run exams safely in your country. If this is the case, there are several contingencies such as alternative exams series and special considerations. In the first instance, it is best to speak to your school or exam centre who will be able to advise you based on your individual country situation and what exams you are entered for.

Feeling a certain amount of concern or worry is natural when we encounter difficult or unsettling times. We would like to support wherever we can, from mindfulness practice to safeguarding, and are providing a range of resources suitable for teachers, parents and young people. If you are feeling anxious or upset, please remember to always talk to someone. If you are a student, talking to your family/parent/guardian or your close friends can help.

We recognise and appreciate all the additional work that you and your colleagues have been doing for your students as a result of the changes to summer assessment. It’s been another extremely challenging year which has required extraordinary efforts by teachers, schools and colleges. 

While your fees are paid at the very end of the two-year course, they cover much more than just the final exams and enable us to provide everything you and your students need throughout the course. 

For full details please visit our 2021 qualification fees FAQs page. You'll also find two visual guides that explain what qualification fees cover for both International and UK qualifications, how the money from these fees is spent and how our costs have been affected this year. 

You can also read through our frequently asked questions.

2021 qualification fees FAQs and visual guides

We want to reassure all students and parents that we are actively engaging with global universities and admissions bodies about the approach to teacher assessed grades this year. We will continue to do this throughout the process.

We know that universities and qualification evaluators remain committed to upholding transparency and fairness to all students from every curriculum around the world in these uncertain times. They will provide feedback on how they will evaluate teacher assessed grades once we have finalised our process.

Universities are aware that students need reassurance that they will not be disadvantaged in their applications for admission and advance standing/credit.

Although it is very early in the process, some universities have already confirmed that they will welcome students with teacher assessed grades and that they will hold the same value as exam-derived results.

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We have not yet finalised arrangements for the January 2022 exam series. We will let you know as soon as possible whether the adjustments which applied in summer and autumn 2021 may apply in January 2022. 

Further information and guidance

BTEC information and guidance for international centres

LCCI information and guidance for international centres

PTE Academic information and guidance for international centres

You can submit questions using our contact form. If you need to talk to us about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the effect on your centre and learners, Exam Officers can call us on +44 (0) 120 4770 696.